Constructing Multi-Conscious Identities: Ethnicity, Socialization, and Schooling Among Sub-Saharan African Refugee Youth
Nwosu, Oluchi Chinyere
Scholars have called for a paradigmatic shift away from acculturation models contingent upon oversimplified binaries that associate individuals with their culture of origin or the culture(s) associated with their resettlement community (Berry et. al, 2012; Portes & Zhou, 1993; Rudmin, 2009). Such perspectives do not account for the nuanced ways in which individuals are actively and strategically defining whether and how they will participate in response to socially constructed constraints in multiple or specific contexts. In my dissertation, I study whether and how ethnic identity development is incorporated into this strategic navigational process for refugees who are likely to be racialized as Black in the U.S. Through fourteen interviews and participant observation within five refugee families from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan, I examine how ethnicity, race, and immigration experiences shape individuals’ perceptions of self, others, opportunities, and challenges. I also investigated the culture, curriculum, and people within a multicultural elementary charter school for refugee, immigrant, and local native-born children to assess the role of schools in these acculturation and identity development processes. Double-consciousness (DuBois, 1903), Black Feminism (Collins, 1990), and Critical Race Feminism (Wing, 2000) provide crucial frameworks for considering how aspects of ethnic identity development manifest in individuals’ voices, views, and choices, particularly for Sub-Saharan African refugee youth. These theoretical lenses are also valuable for exploring how this developmental process can promote collective action and institutional change. Thus the objectives of this dissertation work are twofold. First, I aim to combine past scholarship with current observations to enhance research on ethnicity in globalizing contexts. Second, I endeavor to inspire practice through an increased awareness of the significance of ethnic identity development, particularly within schools serving broadly diverse and/or international youth.